Asia: Sepang: Karun Chandhok weekend summary

CHANDHOK 'IRRITATED' DESPITE FRONT ROW START Sepang, Malaysia: India's Karun Chandhok was left disappointed but not dispirited after scoring no points in the third round of the new-for-2008 GP2 Asia Series at Sepang, supporting the Malaysian...

CHANDHOK 'IRRITATED' DESPITE FRONT ROW START

Sepang, Malaysia: India's Karun Chandhok was left disappointed but not dispirited after scoring no points in the third round of the new-for-2008 GP2 Asia Series at Sepang, supporting the Malaysian Grand Prix. He only narrowly missed out on adding to his points tally, and could reflect on a superb qualifying session that put him 2nd on the grid for Saturday's feature race.

The 24-year-old from Chennai, who is backed by Red Bull, JK Tyre, Amaron and ICSA Logistics, impressed the watching Formula 1 fraternity with his qualifying performance that was only bettered by series leader Romain Grosjean, Renault's F1 test driver.

However, Chandhok was unable to take advantage of his front-running pace due to a problem before the start: his engine's ECU (electrical control unit) lapsed into safe mode, which meant his motor would only rev to 3,600rpm when he needed at least 5,000rpm to pull away for the warm up lap. "It just left me stranded, looking stupid, like I'd stalled or something", fumed Karun of the technical problem; "But there was nothing I could do about it".

After the glitch was fixed in the pitlane, he turned in a stunning recovery drive from the back of the pack, passing car after car in treacherously wet conditions, until his progress was hampered further by a disastrous pitstop: "My right-rear wheel jammed on", he said. So I was delayed by over 30secs".

Despite all these dramas, Karun was still on the fringe of the point- scoring positions when he collided with Armaan Ebrahim at the last corner with a handful of laps remaining, which put them both out: "I had just set 3 consecutive fastest laps and was about 3 seconds per lap quicker than him. After catching Armaan, I sat there behind him for a lap and had a look into the last corner but unfortunately for both of us, I just locked a wheel on a damp patch from the earlier rain shower and slid into him", he rued.

For Sunday's sprint race, Chandhok was again mired in the pack, but soon marched his way towards the front. From 15th on the grid, he was up to ninth by the end of the opening lap. Karun lost a place to Fairuz Fauzy on lap four, when he was forced wide avoiding Yelmer Buurman, and then spent the rest of the race hounding Buurman and Fauzy to the finish, just out of the points in seventh.

"It was like Lewis Hamilton getting stuck behind Mark Webber and Jarno Trulli in the grand prix. I knew I was quicker than the cars ahead but it was just impossible to pass on this track," said Chandhok.

"We were quick all weekend, and showed our fastest time in the Paul Ricard test European test last week was no one-off, but I'm really irritated that technical problem, a bad pitstop and a mistake from me meant I didn't score points. Being the first weekend of the year with F1, it was important to show that I had speed. I had a chance to interact with a lot of people in the F1 paddock during the weekend and it was nice to hear that they had seen the qualifying performance. The race was a bit of a lottery with the weather but qualifying is a more pure display of our potential. I'm just looking forward to a clean weekend next time out, so I can get back on the podium again."

Chandhok's next race is the fourth round of GP2 Asia in Sakhir, supporting the Bahrain Grand Prix on April 5/6.

-credit: karun chandhok

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Series FIA F2
Drivers Mark Webber , Lewis Hamilton , Fairuz Fauzy , Karun Chandhok , Armaan Ebrahim , Yelmer Buurman